President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona) will be different to the last turbulent one delivered by Jacob Zuma.
And the reason is an undertaking given this week by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
“The State of the Nation Address will be delivered in a peaceful environment‚” Malema said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“We are giving Cyril that chance … I don’t want a situation where he says‚ ‘No‚ you never gave me a chance‚ you just started (disrupting the National Assembly) from the onset.’”
But the undertaking came with a caveat. “We are giving him a chance. And then … one of the things that he has to announce – removal of (the) minister of finance‚ please‚” he said.
The red berets frequently disrupted the National Assembly while Zuma was speaking.
Zuma had barely said “thank you” as he took to the podium at the Sona in 2017 when the fireworks began.
Malema stood up and described Zuma as “an incorrigible man‚ rotten to the core” and vowed not to let him speak.
Zuma brushed aside most of the confrontations by simply ignoring Malema or dismissing him with his trademark chortle.
Malema did‚ however‚ manage to touch a nerve during a sitting while Zuma was answering questions in the National Assembly in August 2017.
The two had a heated‚ finger-pointing exchange.
“Honourable speaker‚ I don’t know whether members want to play politics.
Firstly‚ people every day say something about President Zuma in this country.
Should I stand every day‚ take everybody to court? You (he said pointing at Malema) say a lot of things about me. Should I do so?” he asked.
Malema nodded. “You can take me to court‚” he shouted.